I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Do Older Teachers Suck?

Mitt Romney seems to think so:
The former Massachusetts governor continued his criticism of unions on Sunday at a town hall meeting in Vernon Hills, Ill. "We should pay our beginning teachers more," he said, according to Crystal Lake Patch. "The national unions are too interested in benefits for the older teachers."
I don't know why they would be: younger teachers pay the same dues as older teachers (at least, they do in New Jersey). The implication here is that the hated unions are protecting burned-out older teachers, who aren't nearly as effective and able to "connect" with their students as younger teachers.

I've tried to find some academic studies about this, but my first look has come up blank. Is there any evidence that a majority - or even a significant minority - of teachers simply give up late in their careers? Because there is significant research that shows that experience counts; for up to 30 years, it can make a difference.

Of course, there are undoubtedly some teachers who do burn out; the question is whether this is such a significant number that it's worth radically restructuring the compensation practices of the profession. Again, the burden of proof is on the reformyists: where is their evidence that large numbers of teachers are fried after 25 years on the job? And that those teachers are a significant factor in suppressing student achievement?

This is yet another example of how teaching is not treated like a "real" profession. Can you imagine anyone saying that he wants to avoid a doctor who had been treating patients for 30 years; that he wanted a younger, less-experienced doctor? That a pilot who had been flying commercially for 20 years was probably "burned out," and you'd be safer on a plane piloted by a younger, more "enthusiastic" captain?

So why do we treat teachers so differently?



Anonymous said...

Older Teachers Don't Suck, they are probably more effective, would be my guess. But they are vastly over-compensated (not over-paid, over-compensated) compared to the starting salaries of incoming new teachers. And they run the union.

Take a deep breath, Duke, dig into your newly found integrity from a few posts ago, and deny the previous paragraph.

Deb said...

So I know that anecdotes do not make the best argument, but I have to chime in on this with one anyway. My daughter is blessed this year to have a teacher who has been teaching for over 30 years. Mrs. P comes to school every day with the enthusiasm of a new teacher but the experience of a veteran. Every child is an individual with unique needs that she identifies and embraces. It would be a loss to my daughter and to the profession if Mrs. P were no longer in the profession and in the classroom. They can talk in all the abstractions they want. But they simply do not have it right.

Unknown said...

Hmmmmm, why not extend this logic to veteran doctors and pilots and engineers and generals and truckers and CEOs and lawyers and hedge fund managers and venture capitalists? Old, bald, flabby, cranky, burned out men are not nearly as effective... oh, wait.

A Nonny Mouse said...

I love that I'm vastly overcompensated when I've finally broken 60K after 15 years of teaching (and while I'm making 1/3rd more than when I started, I'm 3 to 5 times better than I was when I started.)

And here comes the "gold plated benefits" and "taxpayer funded pension" argument, even though I have ALWAYS paid into my benefits and the taxpayers have NOT paid into my pension...

Anonymous said...

The statement was "vastly over-compensated (not over-paid, over-compensated) compared to the starting salaries of incoming new teachers."


Anonymous said...

If they get rid of tenure, the older more expensive teachers will be the first to be dumped, fired or off-loaded.
Older teachers are vastly over-compensated? How so?

Anonymous said...

Many are. Give you a live example from my life. I know a 62 year old K-2 gym teacher. No advanced degree, no sports coaching....gym teacher. Phys Ed if you will. Makes 113 k per year, base. Plus family healthcare, plus pension, plus he works at a town summer camp doing similar level work at an hourly rate that I understand is quite nice.

Altho it doesn't matter for the point I am making, the guy is despised in his school, does the absolute minimum, bring no joy or love of sports to the children, and would have been fired years ago for mediocrity if he wasn't tenured.

Is he over compensated? Who makes that kind of compensation for that kind and amount of work? He's setting up dodgeball games for 7 year olds.

Anonymous said...

This is yet another example of how teaching is not treated like a "real" profession. Can you imagine anyone saying that he wants to avoid a doctor who had been treating patients for 30 years; that he wanted a younger, less-experienced doctor?

I have a lot of doctors in my family, and they inevitably have told me to look for doctors that have experience but have not been out of med school for decades because the technology is so different now. The number I heard was 15 years, which basically means find a late thirties/early 40s doc.

Anyone who denies that most 40 plus year olds suffer some loss of energy, memory, etc is lying to themselves. And I don't that the experience of having taught 7500 kids instead of 4500 much outweighs those factors.

Anonymous said...

This is yet another example of how teaching is not treated like a "real" profession.

Can you name another profession where people like you with a soapbox encourage mob behavior and thuggery among the profession and nobody much says anything?

If you want to know why some people don't consider teaching as lofty a profession as you like, look to your union, which acts more like it represents teamster and coal miners than professionals.

Anonymous said...

The trolls have been at the Ayn Rand again. Makes one feel tough, I guess. Sink or swim, eh? You can't hack it; pack it. (Remember that one from BT, troopers?)

Those of us who deal with dangerous people (I can't use the word thug)on daily basis, would never mistake peaceful protest with mob behavior or thuggery.

If you're scared of teachers, maybe you'd better pack it--Ayn, a tough old lunatic, would laugh in yer face.

Anonymous said...

A teacher is earning $113K per year without an advanced degree!? That must be one very rich school district and that gym teacher must have been teaching for a very long time. I do not look down upon gym teachers nor demean what they do. The anti-union troll seems to think that the NJEA and the local district unions are full of violent, thuggish miscreants. Geesh, get a grip, utter nonsense.

czarejs said...

Wow Troll who knew you were so sensitive. People that act as a group to oppose what you support are thugs. I bet you were saying the same things about all those Teabagger town halls. You know.... the ones with the Faux News soapbox.

As for your real life example a couple of points

1) I'm glad you've talked to every child/parent that has ever had this teacher and can make such sweeping generalization.

2) Since however even you admit that has nothing to do with your point I'll go right to compensation. I do think that your post here really shows your jealousy. Average salary for an experienced auto mechanic is $50k. Using your thinking, we can just go 50k! For that? The kid who lives next door to me fixes cars in the driveway! For free!
You're gonna have to do better than "I just don't think it's right!"

Duke said...

Thx for comments, everyone.

Unknown said...

Most of the teachers that I see being "coerced" to leave have <10 years experience. In fact, it takes a long time to learn student misconceptions and what works to correct them, it took me at least 5 years to get a decent grasp on it. I can tell you as an UNDERPAID chemistry teacher that as they change the math curriculum, I get new student issues with Chemistry that I have to learn how to work around. Good luck to new teachers with that.

That reminds me, as things are now we try to help the new teachers overcome this and help them through these misconceptions BUT start 'rating' us and all bets are off. It unfortunately will become every teacher for themselves.

It's funny how this reformy crap seems to obvious to outsiders. PLEASE!!!!, if our jobs are SO easy come do them for a month!!! Once you have a clue, you can have a say.

Unknown said...

^SO obvious^